Good managers vs Bad Managers: Which One Do YOU Think You Are?

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A manager is a senior member of staff who provides the support, guidance and resources necessary to lead teams to success. You would have heard of the saying, “good employees leave managers, not companies”. So, what is the difference between a good manager vs bad manager?

Put simply, what separates a good manager from a bad one, is that the former puts efforts to build a work culture that trusts, while the latter contributes to workplace toxicity.

One of my favorite Peter Drucker quotes is “management is about doing things right; and leadership is about doing the right things”. Guess which one screams good manager?
It’s not that a manager’s lifelong ambition is to be a bad one. But the promotion to authority and the increased workload and responsibilities can alter a manager’s personality.

In this post, we’ll look into the personality traits and quirks of a good manager and a bad manager, to help you identify who you see in the mirror!

1. Difference between a good manager and a bad manager

Before we dive into it, it’s important to remember that no two managers think and act alike. And they may not always see eye-to-eye on the same subject.

At the end of the day, managers are only human. A good manager is someone who is well-acquainted with their team. They are approachable, and rely on their experiential instincts and situational judgment to guide team members. They also recognize the strengths and weaknesses of individuals. A good manager involves their team in decisions that impact them, and hears out suggestions. They are open to feedback and believe in giving members the autonomy to get the job done,

Here are some characteristics of a good manager vs bad managers;

1.1 A good motivator

Good managers encourage people to come forward. They motivate people to ideate and brainstorm which serves as the catalyst for process efficiency and product innovation.

1.2 Assertive

A good manager works on his or her leadership ability and communication skills. They know the differences between responsibility, authority and accountability, and can assert without coming off as domineering.

1.3 Sets clear expectations

A good manager shares goals with the team and keeps them in the loop. They convey expectations before work starts so that members can get a clarity on the deliverables.

1.4 Accountable

Managers not only keep members accountable but also hold themselves accountable if things don’t go according to the plan. They don’t let members take the fall for them.

1.5 Communicative

Good managers communicate with their teams, and standardize follow-ups and check-ins. They bring everybody together, whether the workers are remote, collocated or distributed, and ensure team dynamics stay healthy and collaborative.

1.6 Trustworthy and transparent

Every good manager knows that trust is a two-way street, and is intentional about cultivating it. They elicit this trust by being transparent about expectations and concerns.

1.7 Strong delegation skills

Managers who follow the  delegation process steps do so with the intent to be more efficient. Through observation, they know the potential of their team. Rather than attempting to do everything themselves, they recognize functions, tasks and decisions that their workforce can take up.

1.8 Productive

A good manager does not wish to be a fly on the wall for all things team-related. They know when to step in, and when to take a step back. They leave the execution to the team after assigning members to various tasks and jobs. He or she uses up their time to review issues to inflight workflows, respond to requests, and plan out goals, outcomes and project schedules.

1.9 Appreciative

Appreciating a member and giving credit where it’s due establishes a manager as a good leader. It shows workers that well-performing teams are noticed and recognized, and encourages others to follow suit.

A bad manager

1.1.1 Encourages office toxicity

What is an indicator of a good manager vs bad manager? The latter constantly bully or harass everyone into doing things their way. They don’t intervene when they see bullying behavior and are either unwilling, or unable to apply conflict management techniques to amicably resolve disagreements.

1.1.2.Fails to communicate consistently

A bad manager does not provide announcements, explanations and updates to the team but expects the team to always inform them. The decisions they take tend to blindside the team, and creates more confusion over responsibilities and accountability.

1.1.3 Unpredictable

Bad managers start to develop a superiority complex and do not feel the need to justify changes in decisions or processes to their team. They are unpredictable and defensive when questioned. This stems from the fact that their focus is on asserting authority than on building relationships. They tend to disrespect low-level workers, forgetting that they too were in that position not long back.. Respect is a must

1.1.4 Indulges in blame games

When things go wrong, a bad manager’s first instinct is to blame something or someone else. They deny any incompetence on their part and tend to protect their own-interests. Rather than create an environment for individual accountability that gives them a clearer picture of what is happening, they end up holding the entire team accountable. This affects performance appraisals adversely, with members experiencing anxiety over a possible demotion, pay cut or bias .

1.1.5 .Micromanaging

Bad managers exhibit micromangerial tendencies. Micromanagement stems from deep-seated mistrust and anxiety. Such managers feel that this is the only way to ensure things get done, and insist on frequent updates. They also take decisions unilaterally and do not feel the need to keep communication two-way. As a result, most decisions catch teams unawares. Over time, employees feel underappreciated, and over-scrutinized.

1.1.6 Discourages innovation

Another distinguishing factor for a good manager vs bad manager is that bad managers are opposed to new ideas, fearing that would be upsetting the processes already instituted early on. While some may encourage ideas, they may not necessarily act on any of it. Such behavior kills the creativity needed for innovation.

1.1.7 .Cannot stay objective long-term

Bad managers make it all about them and cannot stay objective long-term. They tend to play favorites and have a bias for, or against certain members, which again creates discord amongst members. They nitpick on the team, but forget to praise and credit efforts where it’s due.

1.1.8.Averse to learning from others

Bad managers dislike learning from someone else, especially if that person is new to the firm, or junior in position. Such managers are averse to mentoring programs where the roles of mentor and mentee are flipped. They tend to value and prioritize their own experiential judgment over that of others.

2. Characteristics of a good manager and a bad manager

In order to pick out a good manager from a bad one, we tend to think that all managers behave a certain way all the time. The truth is, good managers can have bad tendencies, and vice versa. No manager is any particular extreme.

That being said, there are a few identifiable traits that are consistent with strong leadership ability. A good manager vs bad manager, for instance, is someone the team feels comfortable reporting to. Members who interact with such a manager enjoy hashing out ideas, participating in discussions and pooling in their knowledge and experience. Such teams contribute to the business and tend to remain driven, competent and productive.

A good manager can read the room and is able to observe how team members work together. They can settle workplace disputes, and step in when there’s a conflict that’s impacting work progress and demoralizing the rest of the department. Good managers are more intentional in their efforts to create a supportive, safe and healthy work environment. Good managers not only know their team well enough to give constructive feedback, but also invite feedback on their leadership ability from the teams they are managing.

There are different types of ‘bad’ managers. The adjective does not imply that they are incompetent or unqualified. It’s a lot more nuanced than that. There are those who simply do what they are told, which includes micromanaging their employees. Such bad managers are ultimately just puppets controlled by their superiors. Then there are managers who are unable to give feedback, either out of a lack of context, or unwillingness to understand what individual team members do. There are managers who are highly knowledgeable and experienced, but would rather do their previous job than supervise the people who are now doing it.

 3. What are five qualities or skills a manager should have?

A manager should be a good conversationalist which means being able to listen just as well as they speak. They should be able to take decisions and stick to it, bearing in mind any and all consequences and rewards. A good manager is also good at delegation, and is comfortable assigning accountability, and responsibility to those they identify as suitable for the task.

The five qualities a manager should have are

  1. Interpersonal skills and communication
  2. Foresight and adaptability
  3. Decision making
  4. Objectivity
  5. Credibility
    At the end of the day, managers manage people, not jobs. And it’s not too late for a bad manager to turn over a new leaf. All it takes is self-introspection. If you recognize some or all of the signs listed in this post, then it’s time to consider making conscious efforts to overcome unfavorable personality traits.

Remember, that reputations last, and positions don’t. So while you still are in the hot seat, how would you like to be remembered?



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